Lifelong guidance aims to provide career development support for individuals of all ages, at all career stages. It includes careers information, advice, counselling, assessment of skills and mentoring. Quality guidance services should be available to all individuals, regardless of their employment situation, socioeconomic status, ethnicity or gender. Cedefop’s lifelong guidance project develops research and knowledge exchange for the improvement of guidance and counselling across the European Union.

By addressing the needs of at-risk groups, such as the young disengaging from education and training, or migrants striving for labour market integration, guidance aims to support social inclusion. By contributing to reconciling the needs of individuals with the needs of the labour market and of enterprises, guidance aims to support employment and economic growth.

To achieve universally available quality guidance services across Europe, the Council of the European Union has adopted, in 2008, a resolution on improving the role of lifelong guidance in lifelong learning strategies. The resolution acknowledges the centrality of guidance for education and training policies as well as its leading role in supporting employment growth and successful careers for individuals. It lays down four policy priority areas:

  1. encourage the lifelong acquisition of career management skills;
  2. ease access for all citizens to guidance services;
  3. develop quality assurance in guidance provision;
  4. encourage coordination and cooperation among the various national, regional and local stakeholders.

Cedefop’s research in lifelong guidance is concerned with the changing needs of individuals through their lives and careers. Studies have addressed the specific needs of the young, middle aged workers and learners, and older people. Lifelong guidance strategies and methodologies for the labour market integration of migrants have also been researched.

Cedefop has developed reference research into standards for guidance professionals’ competences, system development, and improving cooperation between stakeholders. Together with its CareersNet independent experts in lifelong guidance and career development, Cedefop published a collection of working papers on revisiting practitioners' professionalism in the digital context. Research was developed on ensuring the quality of labour market information and intelligence in careers information and advice. Studies on the career transitions of individuals are also being undertaken, with important outcomes for the development of lifelong guidance.

Cedefop cooperates with the European Commission in developing tools and principles which support the work of guidance professionals and the careers of individuals:

Cedefop encourages knowledge exchange between guidance experts and practitioners by cooperating with Euroguidance and international associations such as IAEVG, ICCDPP and ETF, ILO, OECD, UNESCO, and the World Bank.


Resources for guidance database

Networks - CareersNet

Cedefop's expert network for lifelong guidance and career development


Inventory of lifelong guidance systems and practices


Thematic Bibliography Corner